In March, before the MLS season started, the Player’s Union and the League were working on reaching an agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.
The biggest addition to the CBA was the creation of a form of free agency. We will take a look at how this contract will affect players and Orlando City. The union also noted that four-fifths of the league are now playing on guaranteed contracts, which are given to players who are 24 years old with a year of service under their belts. Eric Avila is the only Orlando City player that will fit these criteria. However, it is not open free agency like other major U.S. sports. The final proposal was approved by 91% of players, according to the union. This actually worked well for a league in its infant stages, but times have changed and the league has grown a lot over the last 20 years. It will increase by 12.5% next year and 5% every subsequent year. The salary budget is scheduled to increase by roughly 5% in subsequent years (2016 – $3.66 million; 2017 – $3.845 million; 2018 – $4.035 million; 2019 – $4.24 million).
Once all of that money is added up, the union says, the average non-Designated Player will get a raise of about $60,000 over the course of the CBA and be making about $200,000 a year. The belief of some of the players is that it isn’t enough.
RESERVE MINIMUM SALARY: The minimum salary for additional players beyond the first 24 roster slots per club will increase from $36,500 in 2014 to the following: 2015 – $50,000; 2016 – $51,500; 2017 – $53,000; 2018 – $54,500; 2019 – $56,250.
The 28 years old/8 years of service free agency is also mentioned in the document, with players able to negotiate raises of up to 25% of current salary, though this percentage decreases the higher their salary figure is. Many professional leagues limit the guaranteed money, but MLS gives a majority of their players this contract.
The agreement had been announced days prior to the opening of this season.
Initial thoughts on some of the gains in the new CBA? This can be traded or used to buy down contract values against the salary cap. The introduction of free agency, regardless of its strict requirements, is a step in the right direction.
Looking over the released components, it’s clear that the Players Union made significant strides.